In ancient times Icknield Street and Watling Street crossed the county, which has extensive Roman and pre-Roman remains. Thomas Gray is buried at Stoke Poges, in the country churchyard that inspired his "Elegy." John Milton had a cottage for a time at Chalfont St. Giles, and the poet William Cowper spent many years at Olney. Also in Buckinghamshire are Hughenden Manor, home of the statesman Benjamin Disraeli; Checquers, a historic Tudor mansion and residence of British prime ministers since 1921; and Eton College, England's most famous public school.
Buckinghamshire (abbreviated Bucks) is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan home county in South East England. The county town is Aylesbury and the largest town in ceremonial Buckinghamshire is Milton Keynes.
The area under the control of Buckinghamshire County Council, or shire county, is divided into four districts - Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe. The Borough of Milton Keynes is a unitary authority and forms part of the county for various functions such as Lord Lieutenant but does not come under county council control. The ceremonial county, the area including Milton Keynes borough, borders Greater London, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.
The name Buckinghamshire is Anglo-Saxon in origin and means The district (scire) of Bucca's home. Bucca's home refers to Buckingham in the north of the county, and is named after an Anglo-Saxon landowner. The county has been so named since about the 12th century; however, the county itself has existed since it was a subdivision of the kingdom of Mercia (585–919).
The history of the area, though, predates the Anglo-Saxon period and the county has a rich history starting from the Celtic and Roman periods, though the Anglo-Saxons perhaps had the greatest impact on Buckinghamshire: the geography of the rural county is largely as it was in the Anglo-Saxon period. Later Buckinghamshire became an important political arena, with King Henry VIII intervening in local politics in the 16th century and just a century later the English Civil War was reputedly started by John Hampden in mid-Bucks.
Historically, the biggest change to the county came in the 19th century, when a combination of cholera and famine hit the rural county, forcing many to migrate to larger towns to find work. Not only did this alter the local economical picture, it meant a lot of land was going cheap at a time when the rich were more mobile and leafy Bucks became a popular rural idyll: an image it still has today. Buckinghamshire is a popular home for London commuters, leading to greater local affluence; however some pockets of relative deprivation remain.
The ceremonial county of Buckinghamshire consists of the area administered by Milton Keynes Borough Council as well as that administered by Buckinhamshire County Council. The ceremonial county has a Lord Lieutenant and a High Sheriff. Currently the Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire is Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher and the High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire is Amanda Nicholson. The Custos rotulorum has been combined with the duties of Lord Lieutenant since 1702.
|District||Main Towns||Population (2006 estimate)||Population (2007 estimate)||Area||Population Density (2007)||'''Population Estimate 2026|
|Aylesbury Vale||Aylesbury, Buckingham||172,000||174,100||902.75 km²||193/km²||213,000|
|Wycombe||High Wycombe, Marlow||161,300||161,400||324.57 km²||497/km²||165,000|
|Chiltern||Amersham, Chesham||90,300||90,800||196.35 km²||462/km²||89,000|
|South Bucks||Beaconsfield, Burnham||63,700||64,300||141.28 km²||455/km²||63,800|
|TOTAL Non-Metropolitan||N/A||487,300||490,600||1565 km²||313/km²||530,800|
|Milton Keynes (borough)||Milton Keynes, Newport Pagnell||224,800||228,400||308.63 km²||740/km²||323,146|
|TOTAL Ceremonial||N/A||712,100||719,000||1874 km²||384/km²||853,946|
As can be seen from the table, the Vale of Aylesbury and borough of Milton Keynes have been identified as growth areas, with a population surge of almost 50,000 people in Aylesbury Vale between 2006 and 2026 and 100,000 people in Milton Keynes within twenty years. The population of Milton Keynes is expected to reach almost 350,000 by 2031.
The county council was founded in 1889 with its base in new municipal buildings in Walton Street, Aylesbury (which are still there). In Buckinghamshire, local administration is run on a two-tier system where public services are split between the county council and a series of district councils.
In the 1960s the council moved into new premises: a 15-storey tower block in the centre of Aylesbury (pictured) designed by architect Thomas Pooley. Said to be one of the most unpopular and disliked buildings in Buckinghamshire, it is now a Grade II listed building.
In 1997 the northernmost part of Buckinghamshire in Milton Keynes Borough separated to form a unitary authority; however for ceremonial and some other purposes Milton Keynes is still considered to be part of Buckinghamshire.
Buckinghamshire County Council is a large employer within the County and provides a great variety of services, including education (schools, adult education and youth services), social services, highways, libraries, County Archives and Record Office, County Museum and Roald Dahl Children's Gallery in Aylesbury, consumer services and some aspects of waste disposal and planning.
Above the swan is a gold band, in the centre of which is Whiteleaf Cross, representing the many ancient landmarks of the county. The shield is surmounted by a beech tree, representing the Chiltern Forest that once covered almost half the county. Either side of the shield are a buck, for Buckingham, and a swan, the county symbol.
The motto of the shield says Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum. This is Latin and means 'no stepping back'.
The flag of Buckinghamshire, which flies outside County Hall in Aylesbury, comprises red and black halves with a white swan. The flag takes the county emblem which is on the county shield.
This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Buckinghamshire at current basic prices published by the Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling (except GVA index).
|Year||Regional Gross Value Added||Agriculture||Industry||Services||GVA index per person|
In a recent nationwide survey, Buckinghamshire had the highest quality of life in the country, having the highest life expectancy and best education results.
The county is also home to the world famous Pinewood Studios.
Four important A roads also enter the county (from north to south):
Road travel east–west is good in the county because of the commuter routes leaving London for the rest of the country. There are no major roads that run directly between the south and north of the county (e.g. between High Wycombe and Milton Keynes).
|Milton Keynes||184,506||Milton Keynes (borough)||Unitary Authority since 1997. Population includes Newport Pagnell|
|High Wycombe||92,300||Wycombe||Includes suburbs of Downley and Hazlemere. The High Wycombe Urban Area population is 118,229|
|Aylesbury||56,392||Aylesbury Vale||County Town of Buckinghamshire. Population of Aylesbury Urban Area (including Stoke Mandeville and Bierton) is 69,021|
|Buckingham||12,512||Aylesbury Vale||Historically the county town of Buckinghamshire|
|Olney||6,032||Milton Keynes||Governed by Milton Keynes, not Bucks County Council|
In the 1960s and 1970s, some towns were taken by other counties:
From a slightly later period Buckinghamshire became home to some notable literary characters. Edmund Waller was brought up in Beaconsfield and served as Member of Parliament for both Amersham and Wycombe. Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary spent some time living in Marlow, attracted to the town by their friend Thomas Love Peacock who also lived there. John Milton lived in Chalfont St Giles and his cottage can still be visited there and John Wilkes served as Member of Parliament for Aylesbury. Much later literary characters include Jerome K. Jerome who lived at Marlow, T. S. Eliot who also lived at Marlow, Roald Dahl who lived in Great Missenden, Enid Blyton who lived in Beaconsfield and Edgar Wallace who lived in Bourne End and is buried in Little Marlow. Modern-day writers from Bucks include Terry Pratchett who was born in Beaconsfield, Tim Rice who is from Amersham and Andy Riley who is from Aylesbury.
During the Second World War a number of politicians and world leaders from Europe came to England to seek exile. Due to its proximity to London various locations in Buckinghamshire were selected to house dignitaries. President Edvard Beneš of Czechoslovakia lived at Aston Abbotts with his family while some of his officials were stationed at nearby Addington and Wingrave. Meanwhile Władysław Sikorski, military leader of Poland, lived at Iver and King Zog of Albania lived at Frieth. Bucks is also notable for another exile, although this one much earlier: King Louis XVIII of France lived in exile at Hartwell House from 1809 to 1814.
Also on the local political stage Buckinghamshire has been home to Nancy Astor who lived in Cliveden, Frederick, Prince of Wales who also lived in Cliveden, Baron Carrington who lives in Bledlow, Benjamin Disraeli who lived at Hughenden Manor and was made Earl of Beaconsfield, John Hampden who was from Great Hampden and is revered in Aylesbury to this day and Prime Minister Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery who lived at Mentmore. Also worthy of note are William Penn who believed he was descended from the Penn family of Penn and so is buried nearby and the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who has an official residence at Chequers. Finally John Archdale colonial governor of North Carolina and South Carolina, although more notably American, was born in Buckinghamshire
Other natives of Buckinghamshire who have become notable in their own right include:
Today Buckinghamshire is a very picturesque landscape and is home to numerous celebrities and has attracted its fair share in the past. These include: